Roll out the bunting, my builder is back in the house and on a Bank Holiday too. He’s clearly keen to impress at the moment and I can hear him gleefully destroying various bits of tiling and heaven knows what else as he goes about the wanton destruction of yet another part of my abode. This time around at least I have somewhere to hide and (probably more important) to work, and there will be a floor between us for most of the project. He should also be in for three weeks only, rather than the half-year escapade of 2011, so I am hopeful that I shall not be disturbed too much.
I have been fairly productive over the weekend, finishing all the arrangements for the concerts next week and getting ahead on bits of administrative work. I also added some more detail to the sketches for the new string piece, which is beginning to come together, even if only bit by bit.
My next task is to delve into the world of electronic music, getting my equipment set up for a performance of John Adams’ The Wound Dresser, a setting of Whitman’s poetry from the American Civil War. This will involve a MIDI keyboard, laptop, sound modules and various other bits and pieces entirely unknown to Bach, Beethoven and the boys, so, with a few days in hand, I want to make sure that everything is working in good time. I have had nasty experiences with technology before, and am aware that preparation is pretty much everything in this field.
It will be interesting to see whether this leads to any sonic exploration on my part, and it might, but I am still very happy as a bricks-and-mortar notes-on-paper composer at the moment. The time may come, but it is probably too easy to splash around with interesting sounds to cover up a deficit in terms of ideas, and that is not something I want to do.
There is some more arranging to be done, although the deadline is not until October, so it looks as though once one or two other small things are out of the way I shall be able to get down to some serious work on these two new pieces and try to get ahead on them before the Anghiari programme is finalised and I shall need to write seventy odd introductions for that instead.
Lastly, I have to record how entranced I have been with Velasquez’s painting Las Meninas over the weekend. Although I like to wander around places such as the National Gallery and gaze at paintings as and when time and opportunity allow, this had passed me by, but I spotted it in a paper left on the Tube over the weekend and have been reading about it this morning. It is one of those dangerous interests that might turn into an obsession if not nipped in the bud, so much is there to discuss and debate in the picture, but I have been entirely taken with it, finding layers within layers within layers. It has given me cause to think about my own writing as well and what I might be able to learn from Velasquez’s magnificent example. Click on the picture below to enlarge it.